Lots of people are scared of applying oil to their face. They think it will make their skin greasy or give them spots or they simply don’t like the feel of it, which is understandable as it seems counter-intuitive to apply more oil in order to balance your skin’s oil production. And yet oil is one of the best products you can use on your delicate facial skin. It is a truly underrated beauty ingredient.
Don’t be scared of oil
The skin produces its own natural moisturiser called sebum, which prevents the skin from drying out. The production of sebum peaks during puberty and then decreases with age. Simplistically put, over-production leads to what we call oily skin, while under-production leads to dry skin.
If you have oily skin, you may be tempted to cleanse it thoroughly every day using harsh cosmetic cleansers and soaps. However, over-cleansing stimulates our skin’s natural sebum production, which will actually lead to more oil. In other words, if you use a lot of cleansers or products that strip the natural oils off your face, your skin will compensate by encouraging more oil production. So for those oily skin sufferers out there, you might think that you need to obliterate the oil on your face but by doing so you might actually be making it worse.
Weathering the elements
Our skins are constantly being affected by environmental factors such as sun, wind and dry indoor conditions so the older we get, the more we need some assistance in keeping the outer layer of our skin hydrated. This outer layer (also known as the ‘stratum corneum’) contains oils, making it easier for oil-based products to dissolve into your skin’s top barrier (Michalun & Michalun, 2010). Adding oil to your skin will not necessarily add lots of moisture, but it will however create a barrier effect which prevents moisture from being lost. The oil traps water beneath it and prevents the loss of water through evaporation thereby making your skin feel softer and smoother. Mature skin produces less oil as it ages so will benefit from the barrier effects provided by a good facial oil if applied at least once a day. The same goes for dry skin.
It is unfortunate that people’s immediate reaction to the idea of using oil on their face is generally negative. I understand that it seems like such a strange thing to do as you automatically assume that it will lead to greasy, spotty skin. Yet without the naturally occurring oils in our bodies, our skin would never stay soft, supple and healthy! Saying that, you do need to choose an oil that works for you and which is actually good for your skin.
I recently wrote blog posts about two naturally occurring plant oils – strawberry seed oil and rosehip oil – both of which are termed ‘dry oils’ because they absorb quickly and don’t leave an oily residue on your face (and strawberry seed oil smells amazing). These oils are both beautiful and are manufactured by simply cold-pressing plant seeds to extract all the oily goodness. These are only two examples of many other available oils – coconut oil, cucumber seed oil, apple seed oil, plum kernel oil, cranberry seed oil, to name but a few. Many of these plant oils contain elements that will help protect, soothe and moisturise your skin. I can only encourage you to give it a go! I was once the same as you and now I would much rather massage a few drops of subtly fragrant natural oil into my delicate facial skin every morning and night. Happy oily adventures!
References and Further Reading
Michalun, N. & Michalun, M.V. 2010. Milady’s Skin Care and Cosmetic Ingredients Dictionary